Fall 2023 - 61135 - PA 388K - Advanced Topics in Public Policy


“Intelligence and National Security” seeks to provide a fundamental understanding of what intelligence is, how it succeeds or fails, the broad range of intelligence activities, how the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) is organized and the vital relationship between intelligence and national security decision-making. This seminar will focus on the current activities and structure of the U.S. IC, but its primary objective is to develop a framework for thinking about the use and misuse of intelligence in both policymaking and policy execution.  The seminar will consider how intelligence information is evaluated, analyzed and presented to policymakers, diplomats and war-fighters. Students will also be introduced to the specialized collection disciplines or “INTS” (HUMINT, SIGINT, IMINT, etc.), and to national-level management of intelligence. Counterintelligence and covert action will be covered in considerable depth. The moral and ethical dilemmas associated with espionage and covert activities will be examined, including how secrecy and democratic governance are best reconciled. Students will learn about the legal underpinnings for intelligence activities conducted by the U.S. IC as well as the multiple institutions that play a role in overseeing American intelligence with the goal of ensuring its actions are lawful, effective and consistent with American values. Foreign intelligence services will be discussed briefly, primarily to contrast these systems to those of the U.S. Readings drawn from texts and academic journals will be assigned to reinforce intelligence fundamentals, but classroom discussions will also draw extensively on media reports, legislative hearings, administration actions, etc., regarding current intelligence topics (controversies?) that will inevitably arise during the semester. The seminar schedule will also be closely synchronized with events organized by UT Austin’s Intelligence Studies Project. For example, senior intelligence officials invited to campus for ISP-sponsored conferences, symposia or speaking events will participate in the seminar as guest lecturers.

Who Might Benefit? Intelligence has been called “the hidden dimension” of statecraft. Anyone interested in international affairs or security issues should possess a basic understanding of the role played by intelligence in national security decision-making. Of course, students interested in pursuing or advancing careers in intelligence, diplomacy, or the armed forces would benefit from the seminar readings, discussions and exercises. It is equally important, however, that public officials in all fields, scholars, technologists, journalists and other leaders in our society are familiar with intelligence and its significant impact on U.S. policies. This broader societal engagement with U.S. intelligence is increasingly important because of changes to our IC in the last 15 years to, for example, focus greater attention on transnational or non-state threats (like terrorism, weapons proliferation and human trafficking), eliminate protective barriers between overseas and domestic intelligence gathering, and the technology advances that expose more domestic communications to government surveillance.     Skills Development While this seminar is focused principally on public policy themes, there will be opportunities to develop skills in research, writing and oral presentation. For example, students will be exposed to the full range of documentary sources of authority from U.S. statutes to executive orders to court opinions to reports and recommendations of independent investigative commissions. Students will also select and monitor developments regarding a specific national security question, and be afforded opportunities to write and brief on it employing concise intelligence “art forms.” Students will be required to prepare a research paper on an intelligence-related topic chosen in consultation with the professor. Requirements and Expectations Student grades will be informed by a single research paper, a book review, limited writing and briefing exercises and class participation that includes posting short weekly comments based on assigned readings and current events.

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